“suspense, bad guys, music, scripture, and history”

Goodreads Review by Paula S.

“This one is not for the faint of heart, but the Biblical exegesis is worth the read.”

“This novel by M. Dolon Hickmon has everything: suspense, bad guys, music, scripture, and history. Josh Sebala is a rock star who shocks his audiences with the profane subject matter of his lyrics. When a multimillion dollar child pornography business is threatened, Josh finds himself a person of interest. He must choose between advocating for the health and safety of children and protecting his estranged father. Josh was abused by his father, a religious zealot who emphasized Biblical obedience. This one is not for the faint of heart, but the Biblical exegesis is worth the read. Recommended.

- Read the entire review of 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession by M. Dolon Hickmon

“deserves to be read and spread like wildfire”

Heresy in the Heartland Library Shelf

“In that scene, which I reread multiple times, and one childhood flashback scene, I felt the author was telling my story, too.”

“This fast-paced novel is not just gritty; it is undeniably brutal. It is riddled with unpleasant characters doing offensive things, though which actions are most offensive will depend upon the reader’s judgement….

As Anne Lamott explains, “Most human beings are dedicated to keeping that one door shut. But the writer’s job is to see what’s behind it, to see the unspeakable stuff, and to turn the unspeakable into words“. Hickmon does exactly that. He opens the door on child abuse masquerading as acceptable (even Christian) discipline. And he turns the unspeakable into words.

The result is a grotesquely powerful tale that deserves to be read and spread like wildfire, as long as preachers still instruct god-fearing Americans on how to inflict pain on small children to the glory of God. Most such children–though not all–survive physically, but we live with psychological scars and emotional limps. This thriller uses bold colors and slashing strokes to paint that pain as an image that cannot be ignored….

- Read the entire review of 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession by M. Dolon Hickmon

“You just keep hoping someone will get revenge”

From Gayle (Ames, IA), Goodreads.com

“fiction, but based on real events of parents who followed a so-called Christian minister’s guidebook to disciplining children”

“I received this book from LibraryThing.

I was hooked from the beginning and could not put it down, though it made my heart heavy.

It’s fiction, but based on real events of parents who followed a so-called Christian minister’s guidebook to disciplining children by spanking or whipping them. He recommends starting with a switch on their bare legs when they’re only a few months old. And you are to continue until you break the child’s will. As the child gets older, the “rod” gets heavier. He recommends flexible plumbers pipe.

I’m warning you it will tear up your guts, but is so well written, you can’t stop. You just keep hoping someone will get revenge.

A strong five stars.”

- Read the original review of 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession by M. Dolon Hickmon

“fear, damage, and revenge”

From J. A. Skinner, Best-Book-Reviews.co.uk

“Although this story is not for the faint hearted, it is a thoughtful and well put together book.”

“The book is very well written and the characters are sound and believable. The physical and emotional abuse committed against children in the name of religion is illustrated and is not an easy read. The abuse of power and trust portrayed by the perpetrators seems like total fiction, but however, we sadly know that it is fact.

The story goes back and forward it time flawlessly,  with changes in location and pace which keep you reading right to the end. The connections between the players are complex but the conclusion ties up all the ends. This book is very emotive and shows fear, damage, and revenge in the lives of those abused and coping strategies used by children.”

- Read the rest of J. A. Skinner’s review of 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession by M. Dolon Hickmon

“To call it a crime story would be simplistic”

From D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“…those who want a hard-hitting, emotionally charged crime story should place this near the top of their reading list.”

“13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession is truly a complex and multi-faceted novel. To call it a crime story would be simplistic: woven within the plot are insights on obsessive behavior patterns, how music can provide subliminal impulses toward destructive actions, and how even religion can provoke a turn to the dark side of death and destruction. The characters are varied, with plausible motivations, often deeply rooted in their pasts. Through their actions, reactions and decisions, an absorbing Biblical mythology comes to life within a modern underworld of human trafficking.

The story opens with a teenager named Chris, who has a deadly premeditated violence in mind for his mother’s boyfriend—and who winds up shooting the man dead in a very deliberate manner. Chris’s mother is also found murdered in a grisly fashion, and other than Chris’s infatuation with a rock star’s demonic stage act, Detective William Hursel finds few clues as to ‘why’.  With Chris vanished and now a fugitive, it is up to Hursel to piece together prior events. What he discovers opens his eyes to another world.

Moving between Chris’ life and band leader Josh’s affluent existence, Hursel uncovers dark and complex links between the two and their experiences. Faced with the evidence of those connections, Josh decides to clear his name by joining the probe into what really happened. Hard truths emerge, lending insights into Josh’s motivations not only for creating the kind of image that lures young fans to his brand of music, but for building a lifestyle that defies any kind of faith at all. Throughout, flashbacks of degrading childhood mistreatment drive an evolving darkness that sends ripples into the present.

Also at stake are beliefs and interactions between secular psychologists, their patients, and lives changed by death, faith, and abuse. It is a story about lifetimes of fear, plots of revenge, and reactions to messages begun in early years; but it is also about choices made along the way: “Chris took his time, relating to each. He identified most strongly with those punishers who, with jaws set and eyes alight, broadcast the cold satisfaction of exacting revenge.”

With lyrics that express themes of spiritual longing, thwarted parenting, and perversion and its translation, Josh’s music becomes intrinsic to the story, driving Chris and others while also mirroring the circumstances of their lives: “Josh’s hostile rasping gave way to a mind-bending guitar solo. Bristling with high-octane fuzz, the instrumental sagged and wobbled as Mike waved the whammy bar and pulled aggressively on his strings. His wild discordance sent the crowd into an apoplectic frenzy.”

As the plot slinks through a world of violence, readers witness the lasting impacts of poisoned faith and childhood violence on the human psyche. The tortured protagonists experience wickedness differently and take two different courses, one struggling against the downward spiral of his history, while the other follows a path that ends in brutality and inhumanity.

For some readers, this account of obsession, abuse, and redemption could strike too close to home; but those who want a hard-hitting, emotionally charged crime story should place this near the top of their reading list. 13:24′s emotional impact is solid and compelling, dark though it is, and it will keep readers guessing about all the connections and results right up to the blistering conclusion.”

- Read the entire review of 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession by M. Dolon Hickmon

Review of 13:24 by Kirkus Reviews

Excerpted from the full review, available at kirkusreviews.com

“A strange and effective debut novel about the powerful dynamics of father-son relationships and the casual violence of amoral subcultures.”

“Hickmon’s taut, gripping fiction debut journeys into a world of subversive rock-and-roll, dark perversions and deep emotional scars. . . . Hickmon weaves these separate plots together with an unforced ease, as when he effectively portrays Rehoboam’s struggling early years in well-deployed flashbacks. The narrative’s lean, unadorned prose becomes intensely involving as the plot hastens to its climax and Chris becomes linked in the press with the heavy-metal band he loves so much.”

Review of 13:24 by Timothy Birdnow — Conservative Writer and Blogger:

From Timothy Birdnow — Conservative Writer and Blogger:

“Hickmon writes with amazing subtlety, condemning the wicked, the foolish, and the willfully ignorant while not categorically condemning Christianity.”

In the classic poem Paradise Lost, John Milton tells the tale of rebellious Lucifer and the angels who followed him. They reject their creator and trade paradise for wrath and vengeance. Along with the first human beings, they suffer dreadful consequences.
Were Milton alive today, he might write a cover blurb for M. Dolon Hickmon’s dark thriller 13:24.
This is a most unusual novel in any number of ways: a fast-paced thriller combined with a disturbing subject matter (sadism and child abuse), a violent storyline with a quick, readable narrative. The story is both dark and at the same time oddly uplifting, for it is – in the end – a story of grace and redemption.
When I was approached about writing this review, I was trepidatious; I’m a rather devout Catholic and feared this was going to be yet another stale anti-Christian screed. In fact, the book provides plenty of red meat for atheists. But if one looks past the surface, it becomes clear that this is not a book designed to trash Christianity but does a rather good job of defending it.
The story begins with a grisly murder committed by a fourteen year old boy. A chain of additional crimes follows a sinister trail through the underbelly of society. His path soon intersects with the life of an emotionally wounded rock star, who impersonates the Devil and fights his own inner demons. With the police hot on his trail, young Chris desperately tries to gather the evidence that will bring down a smarmy political figure, an evil televangelist, and a host of corrupt and vile persons. In the final moment of truth a terrible choice must be made.
I found the story completely enthralling.
It brings to mind the Gospel of Luke:
“But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful.”
This book places us at that hour, with all the attending drama.
Hickmon writes with amazing subtlety, condemning the wicked, the foolish, and the willfully ignorant while not categorically condemning Christianity.  And his handling of technical details is masterful, avoiding the pitfall of boring the reader.
Like Paradise Lost, he illustrates a terrible fall but in the end there is the promise of redemption. You won’t be sorry you read it.